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James Cato, Jr v. J. Yale

April 3, 2013

JAMES CATO, JR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
J. YALE,
DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Barbara A. McAuliffe United States Magistrate Judge

SCREENING ORDER DISMISSING FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM AND GRANTING LEAVE TO AMEND (ECF No. 15) THIRTY-DAY DEADLINE

First Screening Order

I. Screening Requirement and Standard

Plaintiff James Cato, Jr., a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on September 13, 2011. Plaintiff‟s first amended complaint, filed on March 6, 2013, is currently before the Court for screening.

The Court is required to screen complaints brought by prisoners seeking relief against a governmental entity and/or against an officer or employee of a governmental entity. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a). Plaintiff‟s complaint, or any portion thereof, is subject to dismissal if it is frivolous or malicious, if it fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or if it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b)(1), (2); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii).

A complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief. . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007)). While a plaintiff‟s allegations are taken as true, courts "are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences." Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

While prisoners proceeding pro se in civil rights actions are still entitled to have their pleadings liberally construed and to have any doubt resolved in their favor, the pleading standard is now higher, Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted), and to survive screening, Plaintiff‟s claims must be facially plausible, which requires sufficient factual detail to allow the Court to reasonably infer that each named defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quotation marks omitted); Moss v. U.S. Secret Service, 572 F.3d 962, 969 (9th Cir. 2009). The sheer possibility that a defendant acted unlawfully is not sufficient, and mere consistency with liability falls short of satisfying the plausibility standard. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. at 1949 (quotation marks omitted); Moss, 572 F.3d at 969.

II. Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint

A.Summary of Allegations

Plaintiff‟s first amended complaint names J. Yale, a correctional officer at Pleasant Valley State Prison ("PVSP"), as the sole defendant in this action.

Plaintiff alleges as follows: On May 5, 2012, Plaintiff filed a civil complaint against correctional officers at Corcoran State Prison in Case No. 1:10-cv-00793-AWI-MJS (PC). On March 2, 2011, the Court in that action issued an order directing the Clerk of the Court to return Plaintiff‟s exhibits pertaining to a claim previously dismissed, without prejudice, against correctional officers at PVSP. Plaintiff‟s exhibits were forwarded by the Clerk of the Court to the litigation coordinator at Corcoran State Prison.

On March 7, 2011, Plaintiff contacted the litigation coordinator by inmate request for interview and requested the return of his exhibits. Plaintiff was informed that his exhibits were sent to property officers, not the law librarian or law library officer.

On April 12, 2011, Defendant J. Yale destroyed Plaintiff‟s exhibits in retaliation against Plaintiff for filing an excessive force complaint against correctional officers at Corcoran State Prison. On the same date, Defendant J. Yale willfully generated a false departmental document to cover-up his destruction of Plaintiff‟s exhibits. In the departmental document, Defendant J. Yale makes false allegations against Plaintiff, Plaintiff‟s family, and the Court concerning Plaintiff‟s exhibits. Defendant J. Yale reportedly falsely alleges that (1) Plaintiff‟s exhibits were previously confiscated and mailed out on January 29, 2011; (2) Plaintiff‟s family sent the confiscated exhibits to the district court attached to an excessive force complaint; and (3) Plaintiff attempted to regain his previously confiscated exhibits from the Court as legal property.

Plaintiff alleges that his exhibits did not violate the contraband rule/regulation of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and Defendant J. Yale‟s actions served no penological interests. Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant J. Yale‟s destruction of the exhibits not only impeded and hindered Plaintiff‟s access to the courts to ...


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